Editor's Note: Senior forward Matt Betley is chronicling the Lafayette men's basketball team's trip to Italy on May 19-28. This is the first of his journal entries. In upcoming editions, he may receive a literary assist from his classmates.
Venice is unreal. It is something out of a fairytale. It is unlike anything we will ever see again. We arrived early outside Venice and took a boat (obviously) into the city. Venice is full of beautiful canals and bridges and you have to experience it to appreciate how spectacular they really are.
All of the city's supplies for business and pleasure are brought in by boats. There are no cars in Venice. You are not allowed to build new properties; you are only allowed to restore existing property. The houses there are some of the most expensive in the world, some going for over $1 million per square meter. Our trainer Steph Conley wanted us to get her a house but she is going to have to tape a lot more ankles before that happens. Until then, she can just shop.
On a side note, on the boat ride into the city, we saw the setting where they filmed scenes from the movies Italian Job and Casino Royale.
The main center of Venice, called St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco), featured St. Mark's Basilica and its Byzantine architecture. It was an incredible church and the surrounding buildings were just as impressive. A bunch of us decided that our goal was to see all the side streets and not just follow along the Grand Canal. What makes Venice remarkable is that it that every side street led to a different, beautiful piazza that was bustling with shops and people.
If you wanted to, you could take a picture on every single bridge that crossed over the canals. Crossing over one bridge, we saw Coach Dawson and Coach Farrell in a gondola singing along with the gondolier. They claim they were going over the game plan for our game tomorrow night but who knows. The food, once again, was terrific. It is amazing that Italians are not fat with all their great food and tasty gelatos.
Our team has just seen, quite possibly, two of the most beautiful and celebrated places in the world in Lake Como and Venice. It is a humbling experience being able to walk around with our team and realize how lucky we are to see these extraordinary places. The best part is, we are not done. We traveled south tonight to San Marino, capital of the little republic of the same name. We were lucky because AC Milan plays Liverpool in the finals of the European Cup. It was a great game, AC Milan won 2-1 and everyone was going crazy. It was great to be able to experience such a "futbol" atmosphere.
P.S. The internet over here has been expensive and at times far away from the hotel so some of us haven't e-mailed their families. The team wants to say hello to all of their mommies and families. WE MISS YOU MOM!